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David Gilhooly


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David Gilhooly

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The New Work

It All Comes Down to This


Its true, David Gilhooly has stopped making frogs. In fact, he's stopped using clay. Gilhooly made two clay pieces in 199539K (no frogs) and one last piece in February of 1996 (again no frogs). The studio floor is clean, save for action figures. There is no clay dust. There is no clay. There are no glazes. But the finality of it all doesn't quite sink in until you notice that there is no kiln. What has David Gilhooly been doing all this time?

"I have one word for you... Plastics."

"Why did you stop?"

"I don't know. Part of it was that I didn't like making something, then firing it, then glazing it, and then firing it36K again. After making the piece the rest of the process was anticlimactic. It got to be a chore. The last clay piece I made was Tiki Moon Rising in February of 1996. That piece had some found objects in it because I liked the immediacy. I really enjoyed the process of putting the components together. Before that I hadn't been working in clay very much. I made five ceramic pieces since 1994 and that was pretty much it."

38KAlthough Gilhooly had renounced frogs in that same period, an occasional piece of frogfood still made its way into our world when the inspiration hit.

"I think of the frogfood as one big piece made up of the many, a supermarket, if you will. Now the supermarket is full and the piece is finally finished."

After the initial shock of seeing so much stuff subsides, the unfinished work on the tables and the finished work on the walls becomes apparent. At first glance, these are not "Gilhoolys", but if you've followed Gilhooly's career you will notice the same themes, the often dark, sarcastic humor and the fecundity that is reminiscent of the FrogWorld. We are used to seeing historical figures and events interpreted judas.jpg 25Kby Gilhooly via the FrogWorld.

"When I didn't like the way something was in our world, I just fixed it up in the FrogWorld. Now, I use contemporary plastic objects to fix up the world. I hate clay. I don't want to work with it ever again. I don't even want to look at my old clay work anymore."

From clay to a period of clay and Plexiglas and finally to found cross filled with rabbit bendies, Christ in center jpg 28Kplastic object assemblages, David Gilhooly has gone through a metamorphosis. The new work combines the Plexiglas construction with the found media.

"The Plexiglas stuff was too much work. I'd have to cut out all the pieces and then finish the edges and put the piece together. There was too much time between the concept and the realization of the actual piece. With the new work, I really enjoy the eliptical frame filled with rabbit bendies jpg 27Kconstruction of the piece and the immediacy of the medium. The only slow part is the gathering of materials, but that's the fun part too. It's fighting with little old ladies for fast food give aways and meeting people from New York who say that the Goodwills here (Oregon, USA) are the best and sympathizing with children who tell me their parents won't let them have gak (a slimy gooey substance, sort of like pla-doh only slimier and gooier.)"

The new work is meant to hang. "Houses always have walls, but it is a rare house that has built in sculpture stands," laments framed skull with snakes jpg 23KGilhooly. He has solved the problem by making framed shadow boxes that contain the sculpture and hang just as a framed painting might. These pieces have a formality that was lacking in the clay work, yet they contain the same often low humor. They are fun to look at, but in time, when the individual objects the artist used to make these pieces with, begin to be viewed as antiques rather than the contemporary junk that theycross filled with aliens 26K are considered today, these same pieces will be viewed with more reverent seriousness not unlike the way we now view the Dada work of the 1920's. We often forget that the found object pieces of that time were often met with ridicule because of the commonality of the medium. Now that those same objects are considered antiques or collectibles the pieces have acquired a respectability.

"Respectability...", the artist winces. "It may be that the individual small Arneson print collage 28Kcomponents of the pieces have lost their context with time. People who view Dada work today have different attitudes and meanings connected to certain objects than they did, say, in the '60's or even today. As for respectability, well, it may be that people just stop assigning the negative connotations that they associated with certain objects. They can look at the work in a new unit of time as the I did when it was first created."

When asked if his personal metamorphosis is complete, Gilhooly gives an emphatic, "No!". He will continue working with found objects until he finds something better. So it seems the artist himself is a work, still in progress.

Last revised December 3, 1999

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